Nuclear regulator says companies are slow with information

“I’m working with them well but they’re still providing information a little bit slowly,” he said, but added the GDA was still on course for delivery by June next year. […]

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By Sumit Bose

“I’m working with them well but they’re still providing information a little bit slowly,” he said, but added the GDA was still on course for delivery by June next year. “I’m still confident we can provide the GDA by June 2011. I’ve got all the resources I need. There are no showstoppers”

The GDA is the safety assessment process that all new nuclear power stations must go through in the UK. In essence it’s a paper blueprint for safety looking at all the issues involved in nuclear power from reactor chemistry to building design and radioactive discharge and is a joint investigation by the Health and Safety Executive and the Environment Agency.

There are two main reactor designs being looked at: the Westinghouse AP1000, which is being built on behalf of Horizon Nuclear Power, a conglomeration between E.On and RWE; and the EDF and AREVA EPR. Both have issues but the report particularly criticised Westinghouse for delays in supplying information.

Adrian Bull, Head of Stakeholder Relations for Westinghouse, agreed there had been issues: “It’s fair to say the amount of scrutiny the regulator has placed on us has been very substantial, its taken time for us to get the resources together to answer questions and there have been areas where we have missed deadlines but things have improved over the last few months”, he said.

The report, which runs to 15 pages, looks at all areas from the design of the nuclear buildings, the engineering of the structures and even the chemistry of the reactor and applies to the period January to March of this year. Overall, both designs have issues – Westinghouse with its shield that protects the reactor, safety valves and its chemistry itself, and with AREVA human factors such as how people will react in an emergency.

Despite all this, Mr Allars is confident both designs are on schedule and says since March communication has improved

“They are helping us best they can. In March, Westinghouse were behind but have now upped their game. There has been improved project management with UK-based team. My message to both reactor suppliers is to provide information in a timely fashion. The public can be confident that I am robust and they should be able to see a strong regulator working for the safety of all concerned,” he said.

For a full breakdown of the issues raised in the GDA see our story “Nuclear safety report”